Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has defended some of the Government's restrictions, as New Zealand records no new cases of Covid-19 ahead of the move to alert level 2 on Thursday. Get all the important news and read the full stories in the links below.
Key developments in NZ
• New Zealand has no new cases of Covid-19 today as the country's businesses scramble to reopen from Thursday under alert level 2. There are a total of 1497 cases - and 93 per cent have now recovered. There are just 73 active cases.
• After being told last week that level 2 would allow 100-person weddings, funerals and gatherings, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has ruled that those events can't happen for at least two more weeks. Ardern has defended keeping a 10-person limit on funerals at level 2, saying people tended to physically comfort each other at funerals and the risks were too high, but National Party leader Simon Bridges described the limit as "inhumane". Meanwhile, the ruling that bars will have to remain closed until next Thursday has come as a surprise and disappointment to the hospitality sector.
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• Schools and early childhood services will be open again for all students from Monday, May 18, but a Ministry of Education bulletin says schools "can start a transition period from Thursday May 14", bringing different year levels back to school gradually over several days. It also says schools can provide "a transition arrangement" for children whose parents feel it's still too risky for them to go back to school.
• More than $4 billion is being injected into the health system to boost District Health Boards and clear the Covid-19 care backlog, but the Government has warned it would take years to catch up on delayed procedures, scans and surgeries, and to get DHBs out of the red and into the black.
• The tourism sectors' hope for a lifeline may just be days away, after confirmation this morning that an industry relief package will be part of Thursday's Budget. However, it may come too late for some, with the hotel sector badly hit by months of plummeting business - or no business at all.
• Small businesses who miss a repayment to the Inland Revenue on the new cashflow loan scheme could end up facing 10 per cent interest on the loans which are designed to help shore up the sector in the face of coronavirus. The loans are designed to be interest-free if they are paid back within a year with three per cent per annum charged after that, but terms and conditions reveal there are some fish hooks for borrowers.
• Food halls will be emptier, tap-and-go payments will be favoured over cash, floors will have social distancing markings and staff will wear gloves. Welcome to the new normal in New Zealand malls.
Around the world
• South Korea, China and Germany have reported fresh surges in coronavirus cases after easing their lockdown measures. Authorities have warned that the scourge could come back with a vengeance without widespread testing and tracing of infected people's contacts with others.
• Ever since the coronavirus took hold globally, researchers have been puzzled by Russia's mortality rate of only about 13 deaths per million, far below the world average of 36 in a country with a ramshackle health system. With the arrival of data for April, however, the mystery appears to be clearing up.
• Racing Minister Winston Peters has announced a $72.5 million emergency support package for the racing industry, arguing that it is "seriously underestimated" for its economic contribution to New Zealand. However, National Party health spokesperson Michael Woodhouse said it was "insulting" the Government had approved more funding for racing than Pharmac next year.